APUs Explained: What They Are and Why They’re Great For Budget Gaming PCs


As a global shortage of GPUs continues to make them very expensive and out of the reach of most gamers looking to build a gaming PC on a budget, APUs are gradually becoming more popular than ever. But what are APUs? How are they different from CPUs? Why are they so popular among budget gamers? Keep reading to find out.

APU: what is it?

An APU or Accelerated Processing Unit is the term given to a series of processors that essentially act as a CPU (Central Processing Unit) and GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) on a single chip. They are basically processors with integrated graphics.

PCs built with an APU in the motherboard instead of a CPU already have a graphics processing unit inside the processor, eliminating the need for a dedicated graphics card for the system to boot, perform graphics tasks. or play games. APUs are also found on gaming consoles that do not have a dedicated GPU separate from the CPU. Examples include consoles like the Sony PlayStation 4 and 8th generation Microsoft Xbox One.

While the term APU traditionally refers to AMD’s series of 64-bit processors that come with integrated Vega graphics, you also get Intel processors with integrated graphics. However, Intel’s chips do not support HSA or Heterogeneous System Architecture.

What makes APUs so popular?

When building your work or gaming PC, the processor and graphics card will be two of the most important components. However, this also makes these two most expensive components for building your PC. While a decent processor from Intel or AMD could cost you between Rs 15,000 and Rs 30,000 depending on your needs, a graphics card could be much more expensive given the current soaring prices, costing over Rs 1 lakh for high end GPUs.

This places an indefinite wait on low budget gaming PC builders for GPU prices to drop so they can finish building them. However, until they have a graphics card, the rest of the built-in PC is practically useless as it cannot be started without a GPU.

AMD’s Ryzen 3 and Ryzen 5 APUs are popular APU options for budget gaming PC versions. (Image source: AMD)

APUs offer a simple solution: Get yourself a processor with a decent onboard GPU for now, and upgrade to a suitable graphics card later when you can afford it. If your PC is running on an APU, it can boot without a separate dedicated GPU or graphics card. Also, when you install a dedicated graphics card, later the APU will continue to work as a normal processor.

The disadvantages of an APU

Getting an APU will almost always be a bit more expensive than a regular processor in the same performance segment. However, this price difference will always be less than that of a new graphics card. Therefore, getting an APU only makes sense if you don’t plan on getting a dedicated graphics card in the near future.

Think of it this way: a processor can hold a finite number of resources to power your computer. This can either be all used up in the CPU (like in any ordinary processor) or the same resources can be split between a CPU and a GPU (like in an APU). The integrated GPU also means that your APU is probably not as powerful in terms of raw performance compared to a regular processor in the same price range.

Therefore, if you want to get a graphics card, along with the rest of your components or soon after, getting an APU may make little sense as the graphics processing aspect of your APU will be useless once you install a card. graphic. This unused processing power is also not transferable to your CPU and will simply be wasted. Only invest in an APU if a graphics card is a remote or undefined plan.

Do you need an APU?

GPU prices are still very high in India thanks to a supply shortage and crypto mining. With prices twice as high as the introductory price, GPUs won’t be affordable anytime soon. With that in mind, if you want to build your gaming PC right now without stretching the budget too much, an APU may be your best option right now.

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